[rspec-users] New article on "Listening to Your Specs" up on Ruby Advent 2008

David Chelimsky dchelimsky at gmail.com
Tue Dec 16 15:35:30 EST 2008

On Tue, Dec 16, 2008 at 2:01 PM, Lenny Marks <lenny at aps.org> wrote:
> On Dec 9, 2008, at 10:40 PM, Avdi Grimm wrote:
>> I contributed an article on BDD and RSpec to the Ruby Advent Calendar
>> 2008, going over some of the rules I've collected for interpreting
>> what your specs say about your design.  It can be found here:
>> http://advent2008.hackruby.com/past/2008/12/10/listening_to_your_specs/
>> --
>> Avdi
> I'm curious where others stand on the topic of object level specs with
> describe blocks named after methods.  I posted the comment below with my 2
> cents.

I posted on the blog, but essentially I don't think you guys are at
odds. Avdi is talking about examples named for methods:

  it "#method_name" do

not example groups (which I think are fine, and I think Avdi does as well):

  describe SomeObject do
    describe "#method_name" do
      context "some state" do
        it "does something" do

Here there is a group named #method_name, but there are potentially
multiple examples of how that object responds to that message in
different states.


> -lenny
> I agree with most of the points in this article, but not so much the part
> about:
> <quote>
> Contexts named after methods
> A describe block should encapsulate a particular scenario: an object or set
> of objects in a specific configuration. If objects are nouns, and methods
> are verbs, then contexts should describe nouns, not verbs.
> </quote>
> I think this is more or less what Aslak was saying but I wanted to get more
> specific. IMO, using rspec to spec behavior at the object/unit level, it
> often makes perfect sense to describe the behavior of the verbs(methods). I
> think the following contrived example would be fine. It clearly shows me the
> what this method does and what the scenarios it handles are.
> describe Account, "#debit" #maybe 'debiting' is better, but #debit is
> actually more descriptive of the API which is the level I'm at here.
> describe "with sufficient funds"
> it "should reduce balance by debited amount"
> it "should ..."
> describe "with insufficient funds"
> it "should raise an InsufficentFundsError"
> it "should ...
> Actually in the above example I probably would have started with the
> following and only grouped into nested contexts when I started repeating
> myself(e.g. repetition of 'when balance is sufficient')
> describe Account, "#debit"
> it "should reduce balance by debited amount when balance is sufficient"
> it "should raise an InsufficentFundsError when insufficient"
> ..
> <quote>
> Examples named after methods
> There is rarely a one-to-one relationship between desired behaviors and
> methods on an object. When you name an example after the method it tests,
> it's a clue that you have started to think in "implementation brain" rather
> than "behavior brain". You're thinking "I know we are going to need a method
> "#foo" which does such-and-so, so I'll just start spec-ing it now…". Step
> back, and think about the behavior you are really interested in. You may
> find it changes how you write examples. Or, you may find that you didn't
> need that method at all.
> </quote>
> I don't agree much with the above either. I think this the difference
> between speccing behavior at the application level vs. object level. I don't
> feel its a smell to get down to the object level when necessary. One of the
> benefits of BDD at the object/code level(as opposed to feature level) is
> helping to flesh out the API(what classes, what methods, what
> inputs/outputs) that implements a feature. New classes and methods spring
> into existence as I realize that there are details(a new responsibility)
> that I eventually want to drill into but would only be distracting or messy
> at the current level. Using object level examples to focus in on something
> in isolation is a valuable technique. Again, its all about focussing at the
> right level of granularity.
> For ex. part of an 'update profile' feature might involve showing a user an
> error message if he/she submits invalid data. Now I wouldn't start off
> thinking, I'm going to need a User class with a validate method, but going
> from the outside in might eventually drive me to it so that I can drill into
> all the details of what constitutes valid data directly/in isolation,
> without being mixed in with a bunch of other stuff or extra
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